By Allison Antram, Managing Editor

I’ve been looking forward to writing this for a year.

I came to the Collegian at the end of last year, by the grace of God (and Jorge Castorena), and I read the last issue’s tearful senior farewells, imagining the obscure time a year from then when I would craft my four years at Asbury into one emotional masterpiece to mark a closing chapter in my life.

The end is always supposed to be pretty, isn’t it? Definitive, resolute, conclusive, settling. As a perfectionist, goal-oriented writer, I live for pretty endings. And I thought that’s what graduating would look like; when I pictured this time in life, I had a clear and settled narrative in mind including a job, an apartment, emotional stability and spiritual wisdom.

And it looks nothing like that.

Nothing looks like what I expected actually, and I cannot wrap my mind around the thought of leaving the place that has grown, nurtured, and challenged me for the last, most beautiful four years. I will say forever that Asbury has been one of the biggest blessings in my life, and there isn’t a way I can put that into an article-sized number of words.

But originally, I didn’t want to come here; it was too far, too small, too different. And now part of me has settled here, and it doesn’t want to leave. Everything feels like a cacophony of bittersweetness – the joy and beauty of finishing an education, my last shift at the Hiccup, or the last issue of the Collegian cannot be found without the pain of leaving a place that has become home, communities that have become family, and roles that have uncovered more of who I am and what I’m made to do. While I’m completely and entirely ready to move on, there’s a part of me that begs my last days in Wilmore, Ky. to slow down; there’s still too much to learn, too much time I want with my friends, too much left unfigured-out. I am ready to go and move on, but not ready to leave.

As I reflect on all my experiences – the miserable as much as the joyful – I cannot put into words my gratitude for this place and these people, and consequently the thought of not being here is overwhelming. It’s in this uncomfortable transition that I am thankful for what the last four years has been to me.

I am thankful the opportunity for an excellent education, and for professors who cared for me beyond my role as their student (especially Dr. Hurlow, Professor Bandy and Dr. Strait – you have done so much for me). I am thankful for the abyss that was freshman year, knowing only Meredith Anderson and desperately wanting to carve out a future and a person within myself that was so far beyond what I’d known in high school. I am thankful for my Advanced Exposition and Research class my first semester, and even more thankful for the day I skipped (sorry, Dr. Gobin) with Kayleen Bengtson; we got coffee together and the rest is history. I am thankful for the way Spencer Smith somewhat randomly appeared in my life my second semester and has consistently been a brother to me ever since. I am thankful for that one time I went caving my sophomore year, got some very bruised knees and met Shelby Anderson, who quickly became the sister I never had. I am thankful that God loved me enough to wreck me, to break me down and lead me to being rebaptized. I am thankful for various jobs, primarily the Hiccup and the literal thousands of milkshakes I have made because it means I became close friends with Claire Van Der Eems. I am thankful for the way these friends, along with Matthew Jackson, Tim Shell, Angie Molnar, Madeline Mullenbach, Laney Race, Danielle Farina, Morgan Newton, Zach Jeffcoat and so, SO many others have all uniquely entered my life and blessed it abundantly in ways I couldn’t imagine. This year especially, I am thankful for this paper: for the opportunity to grow as a leader and writer, to be a part of campus community in a new way and to work alongside and become so close with the geniuses that are Jorge Castorena, Claire Underwood and Kaiser Shaffer. I am so thankful for the way my four years have been an emotional, beautiful mess and that God’s hand has been so evident in all of that.

But none of this has been expected, and even as I’m about to graduate, I wouldn’t have hoped to be where I am now. My ending does not look particularly “pretty,” my plans are not concrete, I’m emotionally a mess and spiritually still in process. I am not where I thought I would be, and I am so thankful for that.

It is in the unexpected, uncomfortable in-between that we are forced to grow, to dig deeper, to chase God more sincerely and to more and more become the people he intended us to be. As much as I want there to be a point of finality to this process – like getting a diploma or moving out of my dorm room – it is ongoing. The mystery in the goodness of our great God will guide and teach us for the rest of the lives; Asbury is only our foundation, and an excellent one at that.

So though I may be leaving Wilmore, I will not be leaving my foundation – the growth, values, and best friendships I’ve known. It is with immense gratitude that I bid farewell to Asbury, to my “home” and to the best and most blessed college experience beyond anything I could’ve imagined for myself. And it is with the deepest bittersweetness that I say “see you soon,” to the people I love so dearly who have made these four years so beautiful.